London - Romanian
tennis great Ilie Nastase is the subject of an investigation by the
International Tennis Federation (ITF) over an alleged racist remark
about Serena Williams' pregnancy.
Nastase, who is Romania's Fed Cup captain, was heard to say to a
member of the team at Friday's press conference ahead of a tie with
Britain: "Let's see what colour it (the baby) has. Chocolate with milk?"
"The ITF does not tolerate discriminatory and offensive language and
behaviour of any kind," the governing body for tennis said in a
statement to AFP.
"We are aware of alleged comments made by Romanian captain Ilie
Nastase and have begun an immediate investigation so that we have the
full facts of the situation before taking further and appropriate
Nastase, renowned during his playing days for his hot headed
behaviour, plunged himself into even deeper trouble on Saturday when,
according to reports, he used foul and abusive remarks courtside to
pregnant British captain Anna Keovathong - whose room number he'd asked
for at the press conference - and star player Johanna Konta.
Nastase had been riled by the umpire appealing to the crowd for calm
with the Romanian captain interjecting: "It's not the opera, what's your
He was subsequently escorted from the court still addressing the umpire and British duo with foul mouthed abuse.
The match was suspended as Konta - who was playing Sorana Cirstea -
burst into tears, although the BBC claimed it appeared that was
provoked by abusive remarks from a spectator.
Romania star Simona Halep appealed to the crowd to calm down and the
rubber was able to resume with Konta shrugging aside the upset to level
the tie at 1-1 as she prevailed in straight sets 6-2, 6-3.
The reporting of the remark had earlier prompted the 70-year-old
former world number one on Saturday to burst into the press centre at
Constanta and lambast the Press Association's tennis correspondent for
what she claimed was two to three minutes.
"Why did you write that? You're stupid, you're stupid," Nastase had said to her.
Britain's Press Association said his tirade has also been passed on to the ITF.
Nastase, who won two Grand Slam titles in the 1972 US Open and 1973 French Open, has previous history with Williams.
In late March he made unsubstantiated allegations about her doping record.
Nastase, who had a reputation as a playboy during and after his
playing career, also made a number of inappropriate remarks to
Keothavong ahead of the weekend tie between the two countries.
He asked for her room number on two occasions and when the captains
posed together for photographs following Friday's draw he put his arm
tightly around Keothavong's shoulder.
Williams, one of the greatest players of all time, revealed on
Wednesday she is expecting her first baby but intends to return to the
WTA circuit in 2018.
Williams is due to give birth in September, the same month she turns 36.